The War Between Us
by Sarah Creviston Lee
Publication Date: December 14, 2015
Paperback & eBook; 330 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Alex Moon is not the enemy.
Six months after Pearl Harbor’s tragedy, Korean American Alex Moon is sent away from his home in California for refusing his father’s request to join the fight against the Japanese. On his journey, Alex is attacked and stranded in the small town of River Bluff, Indiana just for looking like America’s most hated enemy.
Unexpectedly, Alex is befriended by a local girl, Lonnie Hamilton, who comes to his defense, saving him from doubt and despair while placing herself in the cross hairs of prejudice. Alex falls in love with his ally—a love that is clearly forbidden. Torn between his dual identities, Korean and American, and grappling with how everyone sees him, Alex must wage the war within himself—of defending who he is, resolving his tortured feelings about the war, and fighting for the woman he loves.
I knew that Japanese-Americans in the United States suffered abuse during World War II. Their entire country turned against them, treating them as if they were the enemy. That’s even without considering the fact that the citizens were eventually ripped out of their homes and placed into “internment camps.” It was definitely a difficult and dark time to live in. But I never considered how other groups could have been hurt by the discrimination against Japanese people. This book told me exactly how.
Alex doesn’t want to fight for America in the war. He hates what the country did to his Japanese friends, and he doesn’t see how fighting in the war will change anything. That makes his father send him away to live with his uncle. On the way, he starts to experience the racism occurring in other parts of America. Apparently, they believe that everyone that looks even remotely Japanese is Japanese, and so they assume that he is Japanese even though he is Korean. This discrimination causes him to be off the train, in a town far away from his uncle, and without even a fraction of the money that he was traveling with. He thinks that all is lost until a Reverand finds him and offers to help him, and then Alex decides to make the best of a bad situation. He will have to face the judgment of the townspeople, but he has to find some sort of work and lodging until he can contact his uncle. There he meets Lonnie.
Lonnie is not like most of the people in town. The townspeople, children and adults, all hate Alex simply because he looks Japanese. Lonnie finds out that he is Korean, and is immediately intrigued by him. She wants to learn more about his culture and tries to befriend him. Her uncle is the Reverand, so she sees Alex often, but everyone in town is warning her to stay away from him.
This “forbidden romance” novel is interesting because it is realistic. Now, we aren’t hearing about a prince and a princess from warring families falling in love. We do hear about people from different races or different religions falling for each other though, and facing adversity.
Both Alex and Lonnie are technically adults, but they are both under their parents’ control. Alex always had his mother to vouch for him, but eventually, his father got his way and sent him to live with another family member. Lonnie didn’t have her father to protect her from her mother, so she was subjected to her mother’s desires. Neither parent seemed that physically abusive, but they were definitely emotionally abusive and controlling.
This is definitely a slow-burn romance and not an “insta-love” story. Alex and Lonnie were honestly just friends. They felt as if they could relate to each other, and they were both trapped in Indiana. The feelings didn’t even start until the book was about halfway completed, but once they began, I fell for their romance. It was a clean romance novel, but I could feel their honest love for each other.
Lonnie and Alex were such likable characters. Lonnie was innocent about the world, as she had never even left Indiana. She’d never seen the ocean and didn’t know how other’s lived in other countries. All she knew was her family and her town. She worked to support her mother and sisters, even though she never really felt as if she fit in with them. Alex always tried to do the right thing, but then his own country turned against him. Even though his country, Korea, was under siege by the Japanese, they were just lumped in with them as the “enemy.” He watched friends be taken away, friends that he knew he could trust, and he could do nothing about it.
This was truly an eye-opening read, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a new historical fiction novel to enjoy.
I received a copy of this novel and this is my voluntary review.
Overall Rating: 6 out of 5 books
Praise for The War Between Us
“Sarah Creviston Lee crafts a smart, fast-paced, uncensored, and quite moving story of embattled love and obstacles overcome. Even her unsavory characters are warmly, believably drawn, and the character of Lonnie Hamilton herself is wonderfully authentic. I read hungrily as the story picked up pace. Highly recommended.” -Laura Fahey, The Historical Novel Society
“Lonnie and Alex are perfect renderings of their time, cultures, and upbringings. Anyone familiar with multicultural literature will find a new author to love, and readers new to a beautifully developed look at a culture unlike ours will find a new genre to love. Lonnie isn’t immune to her town’s prejudice against Alex, but she is able to think things through before reacting. Alex is a moving and heartbreaking picture of a young man caught between two cultures and hated for events not of his making. Together, they are remarkable.” -Julie York, InD’Tale Magazine
“Debuting author Sarah Creviston Lee bursts into the historical fiction market with The War Between Us, a distinctive glimpse at post-Pearl Harbor America and the Asian American citizens caught in the resulting backlash of heightened nationalism and fear. Her honest and empathetic handling of the issues, as well as her complex characters, make this a read that remains with you after the cover is closed.” -Laurie L. C. Lewis, award-winning author of the Free Men and Dreamers series
About the Author
Sarah Creviston Lee was born and raised as a proud Hoosier. She can usually be found tinkering in the kitchen with WWII ration recipes, haunting local antique shops, homeschooling her kids, clacking away on her laptop writing one story or another, or watching old school movies with her family.
She currently lives in Maryland with her husband, three children, and flock of feisty chickens.
In 2016, her book, The War Between Us, received the Editor’s Choice Award from the Historical Novel Society.
Blog Tour Schedule
Tuesday, December 11
Feature at The Book Junkie Reads
Saturday, December 15
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